I have a theory for you. It's not a particularly complex one, but it may make you try, just like I did. I'm exaggerating. Maybe.
Of course I'm not going to just tell you the theory. No, I have some talking to do. Let's start with a strange coincidence: getting two artifact spawns in exactly the same place. Last survey points to an artifact at (X,Y). Drop another survey and aha, an artifact at (X,Y). This is, of course, not impossible with random placement of the artifacts within the boundaries. But it's highly unlikely, especially if it happens multiple times. Clearly something is going on here, something more than random (X,Y) with a Z to match the elevation. For starters, certain areas are blocked: such as walls and deep water, as well as nothing else that I can think of. And yet when going from really tiny odds to three times as high as really tiny odds, well it makes me think of those studies that find that X causes a 200% increase in the rate of Y, only to find that the usual rate of Y is something like one in a hundred million, so who gives a shit?
I'm trying to suggest that artifacts, much like ore or herbs, are not random in an area, but random over certain spawns. Even further, said spawns may not even be all that numerous. See where I'm going with this?
Imagine that you have a small field with three artifact spawn locations. You know where they are, having dug them up, or looked online. Just by dropping the survey in the right location you can know exactly which artifact is there. Don't argue too much with the geometry and exceptions, it's beside the point, which is that if we know the spawn locations, we can very easily determine optimal surveying locations in order to test the limited number of possible spawn locations.
Currently archaeology is a bit of an Explorer activity. You don't know quite where the fields are, though someone will make that database soon enough. But you definitely don't know where the spawns are, though someone will make that database soon enough. But at least the actual finding isn't... oh hell, it's all over, we know the best places to drop a survey at a given field and that's that. Shit.
I'm not a perfect explorer. I've a bit of achiever in myself. A bit of killer. A bit of social. Depending on the situation, one may appear dominant. Do I explore the one tiny corner of the map that I've flown past but not quite looked at? (marginal gain) or do I go hang out at CoC and throw hammers at people wiping to bosses? (FREE XP WOO!) The achiever/killer wins that one. And so at some point the achiever may say "Hey, quit fucking around with the random surveys and put one here, here, and here so I can get my artifacts and make something cool. By make something cool I mean get more numbers. Do you see that number? Is it as big as it could be? No? Then start surveying in the right place!"
Well, on a more positive note, I'm very glad that Blizzard included the panel for what has already been created, including the flavor text. A pack rat like me would go insane having to throw away that precious, precious yellow text which may or may not contain a joke.
 There's also the Imminent Death of Archaeologists.
Guest post: Elves forever!
1 hour ago